Junior tight end Michael Mayer stole the show Saturday night in Las Vegas by setting the all-time Notre Dame record for receptions by a tight end. Mayer finished the game with an outstanding 11 receptions, 118 yards and two touchdowns, leading his team to a statement win over No. 16 BYU by a score of 28-20.
Mayer made his presence known early in the game, as he finished the first half with eight receptions for 83 yards. That first half performance was highlighted by his record-breaking catch on a 24-yard pass from junior quarterback Drew Pyne. The catch by Mayer was by no means easy, as Mayer had to leap in the air and catch the ball over his head to secure the record.
Mayer’s touchdown reception, which capped a ten play, 75-yard Irish drive, was his 141st of his career and put him in front of Tyler Eifert for most receptions by a tight end. By the end of the night, Mayer had recorded 146 total receptions in his career putting him eighth in all-time receptions at Notre Dame, regardless of position.
Mayer was unaware about the record after making the catch, but he found out about it when he saw himself on the big screen after the play.
“I wasn’t aware. I went back and sat on the bench and saw me up on the screen and heard they kind of announced it,” Mayer said.
Mayer is extremely grateful for all his coaches and teammates that have gotten him to the point he is today.
“I am very grateful. I’ve been around a ton of good football coaches and a ton of great football players that have gotten me to this point, starting in fifth grade,” Mayer said. “There are tremendous people here at the University of Notre Dame that have gotten me to this point, and I am grateful.”
Head coach Marcus Freeman praised Mayer after the game for his leadership and hard work.
“He’s a special football player,” Freeman said. “But the thing you love about Michael Mayer is he is the hardest worker. When your best player is your hardest worker, that’s the greatest example you can have for young guys and your entire team. I am just going to continue to push him to continue to be the hardest worker we have.”
Although Mayer is arguably the top tight end in college football, Freeman acknowledged that Mayer strives to get better each day.
“He’s not a finished product, and that’s tough to say for a guy who holds probably every single record there is at Notre Dame for tight ends,” Freeman said. “He doesn’t want to be told what he does well. He wants to know how he can improve. That’s what makes him special.”
Mayer continued to make an impact in the second half Saturday night as well, scoring another touchdown in the third quarter. This time Mayer made a fantastic over the shoulder catch, fully extending his arms out to haul in the 19-yard pass from Pyne.
Freeman also praised Mayer for his ability to have a set game plan going into every game.
“The ones that are the great players like Michael Mayer know what the defense is going to do, and they know how to still find a way to win. You see he does that more than not,” Freeman said.
Pyne applauded Mayer’s ability to get open after the game.
“He’s kind of uncoverable,” Pyne said. “Mike absolutely dominates whoever is in front of him.”
The chemistry between Pyne and Mayer has continued to grow this season, and Mayer credits that to lots of repetition and playing catch after practice.
“It’s a lot of practice and a lot of repetition,” Mayer said. “It really works, and it worked today.”
After Friday’s game, Mayer has a team-leading 33 receptions this season and 146 total receptions in his career. With seven regular season games to play, Mayer will have plenty of chances to move further up on the all-time Notre Dame receptions list. Although Michael Floyd’s 271 receptions is likely unattainable for Mayer, Mayer only needs 181 receptions to match T.J. Jones for second on the list.